News

June 24, 2022
Patricia successfully defended her MS thesis, “Evaluation of struvite leaching potential relative to monoammonium phosphate through field and soil column trials“. Coupling field-scale and mesocosm experiments, Patricia employed lysimeters and isotopic N and P labeling to test the hypothesis that P as well as N leaching losses are reduced under struvite compared to monoammonium phosphate. This is often claimed, but until now has not been evaluated with rigor and at the field scale.

Congratulations Patricia!

June 15, 2022
Andrew presented on the lab’s multiple research lines, including struvite, POXC methodology and enzymes, at Wageningen University and at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in the Netherlands as part of an agroecology and circular nutrient economy short course.

June 2, 2022
Our lab is co-leading the soils component of a $3.9 million award from USDA NIFA for Farm of the Future, led by PI Dr. Girish Chowdhary. This 3-year project will integrate soil-water-crop-livestock interactions in a sensor-based testbed on the University of Illinois research farms.

May 18, 2022
Four of our group’s graduate students swept the Department of Crop Sciences Graduate Student Fellowship call for 2022! Congratulations to all.
• Neha: Illinois Corn Marketing Growers Fellowship
• Rosa: Illinois Corn Marketing Growers Fellowship
• Yuhei: Illinois Corn Marketing Growers Fellowship
• Heidi: JBT Fellowship

May 12, 2022
Illinois Soybean Association came out to feature our lab’s work on the 4Rs of P for soybean, led by PhD student Yuhei Nakayama and supported by technician Kato Ssentamu.

May 11, 2022
Dr. Al Lohese visited our lab for a few days to learn about cropping systems evaluations for his new lab at Notre Dame University in Sankuru, D.R.C., and to present on his soil research in the region.

April 1, 2022
Heidi and Andrew traveled to Chimaltenango in south-central Guatemala to initiate her M.S. on-farm research trials to evaluate N and K fertilization impacts on coffee yield and cup quality in smallholder farming systems. Shown below is Heidi presenting the results of her work on soil classification of the region, based on 37 pedons excavated across a 900 m elevational gradient, to a group of participating coffee farmers in the village of Hermogenes Montellano.

March 21, 2022
Traveling to NRCS Kellogg Soil Survey Lab (KSSL) in Lincoln, NE, we sampled soils from the federal soils archive to repatriate soils sampled in the Illinois state survey for our on-campus 100+ year archive.

Feb 16, 2022
Our team was in full force at the annual NREC Investment Live event. In addition to a talk by Andrew, multiple posters were presented by several group members:

Andrew Malcomson – How Much Carbon is Added to Soil via Corn Root Biomass?
Bri – Linking soil carbon and nitrate dynamics under varying tillage and cover crop management systems
Patricia – Relative leaching of ammonium-N and phosphate-P from struvite and MAP
Maia – Characterizing Soil P Fluxes Spanning 150 Years of Agricultural Intensification in the Corn Belt
Neha – Agronomic and environmental impacts of struvite as a P source in Illinois Agriculture
Shengnan – Soil Meets Streams: Vertical Distribution of Soil Phosphorus in Streambanks
Taylor – Tri-site Evaluation of Cover Crop Management Strategies for Soil Health and Nutrient Leaching Reductions

Jan 28, 2022
Our lab’s work on soil Pb mapping in Chicago was featured on FOX32 Chicago News. Watch the ~3.5 minute interview/news clip here.

Jan 18, 2022
We are pleased to welcome several additions to our team: PhD students Finnleigh Doherty and Elided Junior Lumor, and undergraduate research assistant Sarah Shoaff and Cindy Guardado Moncada. Welcome, Finnleigh, Elided, Sarah and Cindy!

Dec 18, 2021
Our lab’s work on the 4 R’s for phosphorus in Illinois soybean production, led by Yuhei, has been featured in the national Soybean Research & Information Network: Fine-tuning the 4Rs for Phosphorus Could Improve Soybeans and Water Quality

Dec 13-14, 2021
Maia (in-person) and Andrew (virtual) presented at the 2021 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in New Orleans on the lab’s work on legacy P and POXC, respectively:
-Rothman, M., Margenot, A.J. Characterizing soil P fluxes spanning 150 years of agricultural intensification in the Corn Belt.
-Margenot, A.J., D’Andrilli, J., Romero, C., Wade, J. Permanganate oxidation and organic matter: review and next steps.*
*Summary talk in session co-chaired by Andrew and Dr. Juliana D’Andrilli entitled “Permanganate Oxidation: A Return to Chemical Reductionism or a Way Forward in Soil Organic Matter Study and Management?

May 15, 2021
Multiple graduate student members of our group have been awarded fellowships! Congratulations Rosa, Taylor and Yuhei.
Rosa – College of ACES Graduate Block Fellowship
Taylor – College of ACES Graduate Block Fellowship and Dept. Crop Sciences Samuel R. Aldrich Fellowship
Yuhei – Dept. Crop Sciences Monsanto Graduate Student Fellowships and Dept. Crop Sciences Eugene S. Boerner Fellowship in Floriculture

May 1, 2021
As in our 150-year Illinois soil archive work, we are capitalizing on another historical archive in collaboration with USDA ARS. An effort led by Dr. Mark Liebig on soil changes in a climosequence in the dryland agricultural systems of High Great Plains (MT, CO, TX). Read more at the SSSA blog, Soils Matter: What can we learn about agricultural practices from soil archives?
Favorite quote: Time is the final arbiter, the eventual judge; and it renders its verdict only haltingly, unhurriedly, often only after decades, centuries even, when we are no longer there to hear its judgement – Dr. Henry Janzen, The Soil Remembers

April 2, 2021
Another great accomplishment: Taylor successfully defended her M.S. thesis, “Thou Shall Not Flow: Assessing magnitudes and processes of dissolved reactive phosphorus (P) removal by P-sorbing materials.” Excellent work, Taylor! Also good news: Taylor will be continuing in our group as a Ph.D. student in Fall 2021 on cover cropping!

April 1, 2021
George successfully defended his M.S. thesis, “Mapping and mitigating soil total lead contamination in Chicago, Illinois.” Great work, George!
The results of George’s thesis will be of direct use to urban agriculturalists and residents of Chicago, including a publicly accessible (online) map of soil Pb distribution across the city.

February 18, 2021
Our work on using a 150 year soil archive has been featured in the Champaign Gazette (scroll down to Crop Sciences) as a key University of Illinois resource. The earliest sample in this archive is from 1861, from “virgin prairie”. Resampling locations of these soils lets us construct a chronosequence to evaluate how agricultural land use change and management has impacted soil development and nutrient cycling in the past 150 years across Illinois.

Soil sample from “virgin prairie” sampled in 1861

December 18, 2020
Heidi was awarded an ACES OIP Global Food Security Graduate Fellows Program, “Can nutrient inputs increase yield and quality in coffee (Coffea arabica)? A case study with smallholders in south-central Guatemala.” This work will build on the lab’s research in Yepocapa, Guatemala, initiated in 2018. Heidi will take it to the next level by conducting experimental evaluation of soil fertility relationships with coffee yield and quality via on-farm trials. Way to go, Heidi!

December 4, 2020
Congratulations to Neha for being awarded the Department of Crop Sciences M. B. Russell Award for excellence in graduate studies. Nice work!

November 9, 2020
Yuhei successfully defended his M.S. thesis, “Soil phosphatase activity: Sources of variability and relationships with phosphorus fractions.” Excellent work, Yuhei!

September 17, 2020
Neha has been selected to be a 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Scientists Engaging and Educating Decision-makers (SEED) Ambassador. This is a 12-month immersive advocacy training program to enhance relationships among the TriSocieties and US Congress members. Congratulations Neha!

August 26, 2020
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been awarded a $20 million NSF Artificial Intelligence Institute for Agriculture, led by Dr. Vikram Adve. Announcement from USDA NIFA here.

Our lab will co-lead one of four research areas of the AI Institute on Soil Health, with Dr. Supratik Guha at University of Chicago. The Soil Health summary:
Identifying, predicting and managing when and why nutrients enter, are transformed, and leave agro-ecosystems is necessary for a comprehensive system understanding for the next generation of precision agriculture and precision conservation, but is constrained by: (1) Small and disparate datasets insufficient to monitor interactions that span spatiotemporal scales, and (2) Integrating and modeling soil data across nested spatial and temporal scales. An AI-based approach to soil and nutrient management that quantifies field-scale inputs and outputs of nutrients and water across micro-, meso-, and macro-scales can be used to comprehensively manage internal (e.g., yield) and external (e.g., environmental quality) consequences of nutrients for sustainable resource use, farmer profitability, and social welfare.

August 12, 2020
Our lab will work on multiple projects in the coming four years supported by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) to support Illinois agriculture’s commitment to enhance nutrient utilization, increase crop production and protect water quality.
1. Capitalizing on 150 Years of Soil Samples to Determine Legacy P and Improve Water Quality in Illinois (PI: Margenot)
2. Next Generation Cover Cropping in Corn-Soybean Rotation to Improve Farm Benefits and Decrease Environmental Losses in South and Central Illinois (PI: Sadeghpour)
3. Integrating Tillage, Soil Carbon Dynamics, and Tile Nitrate Loss (PI: Gentry)

August 2, 2020
Our research proposal “Comprehensive evaluation of phosphorus best management practices for soybean to increase nutrient use efficiency, profitability and water quality” has been awarded for funding by the Illinois Soybean Association. We are looking forward to work with ISA on efficient and profitable P fertilizer usage for soybean producers that co-delivers benefits to water quality in our state.

July 31, 2020
Our lab’s Illinois NREC-funded work on using P recovered from waste streams as a P fertilizer has been featured by the Illinois Farm Bureau, with a virtual field day focused at one of our on-farm trials in LaSalle Co.: “Struvite as alternative to phosphorus

Jim Isermann (left), producer in LaSalle Co. and Soil Health Partnership field manager, and Andrew Margenot (right) presenting the Illinois state soil, the Drummer series (fine-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic Typic Endoaquolls)

May 28, 2020
Welcome and congratulations to Patricia Leon for being accepted to the Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI) and – due to her academic achievement and high aptitude for success in graduate study – an Aspire Master’s Fellowship! Patricia will be starting her M.S. research in the lab this coming August. Welcome Patricia!

May 13, 2020
Congratulations to Neha for receiving the Brockson Fellowship and to Yuhei for receiving the Meador Fellowship from the Department of Crop Sciences!

May 11, 2020
Andrew has joined the editorial team at the soil science journal Geoderma as Associate Editor to provide expertise on soil phosphorus.

March 28, 2020
Check out Taylor’s recent CSA News piece, Finding Your Voice: The Art of Advocacy on the 2019 ASA-CSA-SSSA meeting workshop “Finding Your Voice: The Art of Advocacy” developed by the Women in Science Committee. An important read! Well done, Taylor!

March 13, 2020
Taylor delivered an invited talk on edge-of-field P filters at the 35th Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) Conference. It was well received with lots of interest in this approach to mitigate non-point P loss impacts on lakes. Nice work Taylor!

February 19, 2020
For her work on edge-of-field P filters, Taylor has been awarded 1st place at the Illinois NREC Symposium on Feb 13 student poster contest!
For his work on struvite as a potential slow-release P fertilizer, Allan tied for 2nd place!
Congrats Taylor and Allan!

Dec 13, 2019
Neha has been selected as a recipient of the highly competitive 2020 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award. Congratulations Neha!! In March she will travel to Washington D.C. to engage with policy-makers in order to raise awareness and support for (soil!) science, technology and research funding.

Dec 3, 2019
Taylor, Neha and Andrew hopped over to Springfield, IL for the annual Illinois Nutrient Loss Research Strategy symposium, including presentation of our NREC-supported research on in-field (struvite) and edge-of-field P management practices.

Nov 19, 2019
Taylor B. has been awarded a Graduate College Conference Travel Award. Congrats Taylor!

Nov 15, 2019
Neha placed 2nd in the SSSA Soil & Water Managements & Conservation (SWMC) Division! Congratulations Neha! Very nice work.

Nov 11-13, 2019
Several lab members traveled to San Antonio, TX for the annual ASA-CSA-SSSA meeting to deliver oral and poster presentations:

Berkshire, T., Christianson, R., Christianson, L., Margenot, A.J. Using the portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (pXRF) to determine phosphorus saturation of P sorbing materials in edge-of-field P filters.

Chatterjee, N., Margenot, A.J. Assessing the phosphorus loss reduction potential of a slow release fertilizer struvite for the Midwest.

Nakayama, Y., Margenot, A.J. Pretreatment optimization to control for spatiotemporal variability in soil enzyme activity assays.

Gu, C., Margenot, A.J. Adjusting agronomic soil P tests for renewable P inputs: struvite. Soil Science Society of America Meeting. Nov 10-13, 2019. San Antonio, TX.

Gu, C., Wagai, R., Wilson, S.G., Margenot, A.J. Interactive influences of climate and parent material on soil organic phosphorus speciation.

Margenot, A.J., Berkshire, T., Seiter, N., Schroeder, N., Kleczewski, N., Butts-Wilmsmeyer, C., Gentry, L., Bullock, D.S. Evaluating N effects on current soil health metrics for Illinois maize production.

July 29, 2019
Science communication is essential to convey complex and technical concepts to diverse audiences. Neha has been accepted to the 5th Annual ComSciCon in Chicago this year for training and discussion on science communication from leading experts in the field. Nice work Neha!

July 19, 2019
Izzi’s poster “Effects of Mycorrhizae on Struvite Dissolution: Can plant-fungus mutualism increase the viability of a sustainable phosphorus fertilizer?” was ranked as an “Outstanding Poster” at the 2019 Illinois Summer Research Symposium (ISRS) – only 12 of 300 presentations were ranked as such. Additionally, Izzi’s oral presentation of her research was nominated for Outstanding Oral Presentation. Congratulations Izzi!

July 17, 2019
Yuhei and Andrew co-presented an invited seminar on the lab’s soil enzyme research program at the National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES) in Tsukuba, Japan. Thanks to our collaborator Dr. Rota Wagai for hosting us!

June 17, 2019
Watch Neha explain our lab’s work on struvite for achieving agronomic and environmental goals of production agriculture at the Illinois Farm Bureau and LaSalle County Farm Bureau Field day. Nice work Neha!

You can learn more about this field day on the multi-partner alliance to achieve nutrient stewardship goals of Illinois agriculture here.

June 7, 2019
Yuhei has been awarded the Richard H. and Elizabeth C. Hageman Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship from the Department of Crop Sciences. Congratulations Yuhei!

March 27, 2019
Visiting scholar Heidi’s research on soils and coffee in our lab has been featured by her home institution of Universidad Zamorano.
Enhorabuena Heidi!

March 13, 2019
Yuhei has been awarded an ACES OIP Graduate Student International Research Grant, “Optimizing a biochemical tool to enable global evaluation of phosphorus recycling in agroecosystems using Japanese volcanic soils”. Nice work Yuhei!

Feb 8, 2019
Taylor has been awarded an Integrated Lakes Management (ILM) Scholarship by the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA). Congratulations Taylor!

Jan 8, 2019
Taylor, Allan, Helen, and Andrew traveled to San Diego, CA to orally present phosphorus-themed research at the annual Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) conference (links below). In addition to successful talks, some of us tried calamari for the first time.

Berkshire, T., Christianson, L., Christianson, R., Margenot, A. Phosphorus sorption material characterization for selection of edge-of-field phosphorus filter.

Hertzberger, A., Margenot, A. Utilizing struvite as a slow-release phosphorus fertilizer for Midwestern agriculture.

Senerchia, H., Miernicki, E.A., Chatterjee, N., Barrios Masias, F., Margenot, A. Phosphorus or mycorrhizae? Potential trade-offs among strategies to mitigate lead uptake by crops.

Margenot, A., Hertzberger, A., Cusick, R. Toward a regional phosphorus (re)cycle in the U.S. Midwest.

Nov 14, 2018
Taylor, Allan, and Neha presented posters at the state-wide Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) symposium in Urbana, IL on their NREC-support research on P loss mitigation from Midwestern agricultural landscapes.

Nov 5, 2018
Taylor delivered an oral presentation on her NREC-supported research on edge of field P filters at the annual ASA-CSA conference in Baltimore, MD. Nice work!

Berkshire, T., Christianson, L., Christianson, R., Margenot, A. Media selection for edge-of-field phosphorus filter.

Sept 16, 2018
Andrew and honorary lab member Erik traveled to the biannual Association for Science and Information in Coffee (ASIC) in Portland, OR for an oral presentation on why coffee sustainability has much to gain from incorporating soil science. Our lab’s presentation on soils in coffee agroecosystems made it to Daily Coffee News Major Takeaways on Coffee Science from ASIC 2018.

Aug 13, 2018
Helen has received an NSF Research for Undergraduates (REU) travel grant to attend SSSA San Diego in January to present on her summer research on abiotic vs biotic strategies to mitigate soil lead uptake by food crops. Congratulations Helen!

July 19, 2018
Helen presented her NSF-supported PRECS* research on testing hypothesized trade-offs between phosphorus application and mycorrhizal associations on lead uptake by tomatoes in lead-contaminated soil, using soils from Chicago.
*Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students

June 5, 2018
Andrew delivered an invited talk on soils and coffee sustainability at the World Coffee Science Summit in San Salvador, El Salvador.

June 1, 2018
Congratulations to Taylor for receiving the Samuel L. Aldrich fellowship from the Department of Crop Sciences!

May 29, 2018
Our group’s research on the potential of struvite to re-use phosphorus from waste streams to meet Midwestern agricultural fertilizer needs has been featured in FarmWeekNow. This research is made possible wit the generous support of the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC).